BREAKING NEWS! Marc Olden Books back in Print!

Courtesy of Diane C who runs the Marc Olden website comes the pretty great news, for all of us fans of Marc Olden, as well as fans of just great books, that all of Marc Olden’s long out of print Men’s Adventure novels are back in print courtesy of Mysterious Press.

Comprised of his HARKER, NARC, and BLACK SAMURAI series of books, these are in many ways the holy grail of pulp 70s men’s adventure thrillers and paved the way for such writers as James Patterson and Hugh Holton.

Now these long out of print books are finally available in affordable editions. I must admit to largely being a paper guy myself, but for those of you Ebook/Kindle converts than, this is the deal for you!

MARC OLDEN New E-Books!

Here’s the link to Mysterious Press also:

MYSTERIOUS PRESS

I have to say, I think the MYSTERIOUS PRESS E-book covers are a bit artless (particularly when compared to the beautiful paperback originals), but my cover critique aside, having the content available again is what counts.

So go support and tell them HT sent ya! 🙂

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Poster and Movie Trailer of the Day: ALEX CROSS!

Right Click and Do Save As to download the Movie Trailer

Like everyone else I was a huge fan of the first few James Patterson ALEX CROSS novels. Most notably KISS THE GIRLS. But I fell off the Patterson train relatively early (back when he was still writing his own novels), no slight against him… just other interests came up, and so I have not read anything by Patterson in probably a decade or more. But I still remember fondly those first few ALEX CROSS novels.

However film adaptations have been less than kind to Alex Cross, and this latest film, titled simply enough… ALEX CROSS, on paper does nothing to alleviate this concern. In fact, on every front it looks to be a step down from previous films, and a trainwreck in the making.

First the casting… Tyler Perry as Alex Cross. Now I give you that Morgan Freeman was possibly not the right choice for Cross, but in Freeman you have an award winning powerhouse actor, who basically can make any role work. And he did so with the character of Cross. But Tyler Perry?

He’s a decent actor. He has physically the imposing size. However it would be easier to take him seriously in a dramatic role if he hadn’t spent the last decade or so in women’s clothes. I saw the trailer, I just have a hard time seeing him as anything but Tyler Perry, about to reach for his wig. :). At no point in the trailer, do I say… this is Alex Cross. They would have been far better off with Idris Elba.

Next is the director, Rob Cohen. Nothing in his filmography (FAST AND FURIOUS I, DAYLIGHT,XXX) really interests me. And the trailer looks okay, but nothing we haven’t seen a million times before.

Which brings us to the third red flag, the writers. A pair of relatively untried writers, Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson, and all they have to their credit is another lackluster Patterson adaptation, ALONG CAME A SPIDER.

From A to Z, nothing about this project screams top-notch. It screams retread, made for cable movie… at best. I mean, serial killer movies… not really my thing, and police procedurals are a dime a dozen, so to get me interested in paying theater prices you need to bring something special to the table.

Something where the film is not about the crime but the solution (because call me strange and un-American, but I have no interest in watching people suffer, or torture porn, or serial killers… my interest in such movies is about the hero. It’s about the people who make the wrong things right. And right off looking at the poster, you see where this film’s agenda lies. In glorifying and romanticizing the sociopath. Yet another thing that puts me off the movie.)

You need to be the next MANHUNTER or SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and I think it’s a pretty safe bet ALEX CROSS is nowhere near either of those. However, all that said, I give the benefit of the doubt to action/thriller/genre films with more than two characters of color, simply because Hollywood releases so few of them, and I like to support the ones it does. So I will see this if it hits a theater near me, and hopefully like RED TAILS it can exceed my low expectations. 🙂

I hope I’m wrong. It has been known to happen, though rarely. :). As I alluded to, I was very pessimistic about RED TAILS and much to my surprise that turned out to be a GREAT film, that I’m glad I saw in the theater.

Here’s hoping that watching ALEX CROSS is not my… cross to bear. Heh, heh, heh! See what I did there? That’s a pun, son! 🙂

WEDNESDAYS WORDS

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.

I looked at both the Amazon Bestseller List for the week and the New York Times Bestseller list for the week.

While I found the NY list more interesting than the Amazon list, both were a bit more miss than hit for me. The majority of their items wouldn’t be on my purchase list. What would be?

Glad you asked. Behold:

Dogsbody[Paperback] – Book Description
Publication Date: April 12, 2012
The Dog Star, Sirius, is tried – and found guilty – by his heavenly peers for a murder he did not commit. His sentence: to live on the planet Earth until he can carry out a seemingly impossible mission – the recovery of a deadly weapon known as the Zoi. The first lesson Sirius learns in his lowly earthly form is that humans have all the power. The second is that even though his young mistress loves him, she can’t protect either of them. The third – and worst – is that someone out there will do anything to keep Sirius from finding the Zoi. Even if it means destroying Earth itself. This funny, heartbreaking, stunning book features an introduction by Neil Gaiman, an avid fan of Diana Wynne Jones.

Fire and Hemlock [Paperback] Publication Date: April 12, 2012
Polly Whittacker has two sets of memories. In the first, things are boringly normal; in the second, her life is entangled with the mysterious, complicated cellist Thomas Lynn. One day, the second set of memories overpowers the first, and Polly knows something is very wrong. Someone has been trying to make her forget Tom – whose life, she realizes, is at supernatural risk. Fire and Hemlock is a fantasy filled with sorcery and intrigue, magic and mystery – and a most unusual and satisfying love story.

Widely considered to be one of Diana Wynne Jones’s best novels, the Firebird edition of Fire and Hemlock features an introduction by the acclaimed Garth Nix – and an essay about the writing of the book by Jones herself.

About the Author
Diana Wynne Jones was the multiple award-winning author of many fantasy novels for children, teenagers, and adults. Her book Howl’s Moving Castle was made into an Academy Award-nominated major animated feature by Hayao Miyazaki. She received the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Married to the medievalist J. A. Burrow, with whom she had three sons, she lived for many years in Bristol, the setting for many of her books. Diana Wynne Jones passed away in March 2011, after a long illness.

The Incredible Adventures of Doc Atlas: The Doc Atlas Omnibus (Doc Atlas Omnibus) – Publication Date: October 7, 2011 | Series: Doc Atlas Onmibus
Set in the era of the 1940s and 50s, this collection of pulp-style novellas follows the adventures of the mighty Doc Atlas and crew from the jungles of Central America to the frozen tundra of the North Pole. Whether they’re prowling the streets of Manhattan, investigating reports of a killer gorilla (with the purported brain of an executed criminal) or a crashed flying saucer in a small town named Roswell, New Mexico, Doc and company always see the investigation through to the end. Written with historical hindsight, these tales combine the best elements of the pulp era with actual historical figures and events.
I’m not a Doc Savage fan. So a Doc Savage homage, is generally not something that is going to get my attention. I would never even have stopped on the page, accept the cover. It had a striking Geoff Darrow cover. So that got me to stop, read the description and decide… yeah it sounds worth a look. And that would neveer have happened without a great cover. I can’t stress this enough, with ebooks and print on demand and specialty presses there is a lot of product and competition out there, make it easy and attractive for your book to stand out and get picked up… pay the money, get a great cover. I see so many books, and I’n a cover guy, so if you send me a book, and the cover looks like a two year old drew it, I don’t care how good the book is purported to be…, I’m just not going to take the time to read it. An awful cover, to me, shows a lack of concern on the writer’s part, for their product, not to package it as pleasingly as possible. And if the writer doesn’t care… why should I? So people, if you spend months or years on a book, don’t short-change yourself… spend the money and have a nice cover drawn up. And that’s exactly what writer Black and Lovato do with this book, and as you can see by me highlighting their title… having a good cover helps. It won’t make up for bad writing, but it will at least get people to open the book and judge for themselves the quality of the writing.

Tales from the Deed Box of John H. Watson, MD: Three Untold Tales of Sherlock Holmes– Publication Date: January 20, 2012
Three previously unknown accounts in the case files of Sherlock Holmes, discovered and transcribed by Hugh Ashton: The Odessa Business, the Case of the Missing Matchbox and The Case of the Cormorant.- I like these theme books, and Hugh Ashton’s stories are getting good reviews.

For other writers who do a fantastic job of writing original Holmes stories, some superior to the originals, I have to direct you to the fantastic audio dramas by the folks at IMAGINATION THEATRE. Jim French with wife Pat French since 1952 have been working in radio drama, and since 1995 with Transmedia have been producing and broadcasting IMAGINATION THEATRE.

Starring John Patrick Lowrie and John Gilbert as Holmes with Lawrence Albert as Dr. Watson, their long running Sherlock Holmes radio series is not just good Holmes, it’s one of the best adaptation of Holmes… period. Better than the BBC productions, better than the Downey movies, better than the new Sherlock tv series (SACRILEGE!!!).

In fact there are only two other adaptations I rate as highly, the Jeremy Brett television series… which is seminal entertainment, and (not the Rathbone radio series) the John Shirley 1940s radio series when written by two particular writers whose names are escaping me at the moment. But that’s it, those two and French’s adaptations, a Californian, An American production, are the tops.

French’s IMAGINATION THEATRE, for hundreds of weeks, producing quietly without the attention it deserves the best Holmes Original stories and Adaptations, of our time.

I wish however they would put together thematic sets of their Holmes audio dramas. They have a fantastic 3 or 4 episodes with a villain, that transcends Moriarty in terms of craziness, but it is spread over multiple seasons. They need to make that trilogy/quadrilogy a boxed collection onto itself, and that would make a fantastic introduction to IMAGINATION THEATRE and their Holmes dramas.

But do they listen to me… no. Oh well, until such time as they do, make do with the following:

Jim French Holmes Productions

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Volume 1

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The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

And as far as readers, if you see items on WEDNESDAYS WORDS you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links.

Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

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15 Favorite Pulp Heroes / Characters and the meaning of Pulp! Pt. 1 of 2!


Price The Avenger Chronicles Here!

We’ll begin this with a definition of pulp, pulp heroes, and pulp writing, then get into my list of favorite pulp characters and pulp runs.

The perceived definition of a pulp character tends to be a character that takes place in the 20s to 40s, in an America besieged by the spectre of War, and consists of slam-bam action, and a colorful larger than life hero and outlandish villains.

It’s with the cementing of pulp heroes to a specific milieu, a specific time, that I take issue with that definition. Characters such as THE SHADOW and DOC SAVAGE and the AVENGER were pulp sensations AT THE TIME OF THEIR PUBLICATION because they spoke to present fears and issues, in colorful imaginative ways.

But now the nostalgia bunch wants to calcify the definition of pulp adventure to a particular time frame or particular writers. I don’t think pulp heroes need to be set 80 or a 100 years in the past, that’s not what Marcel Allain, Norvell Page or Walter Gibson or Paul Ernst (writing as Kenneth Robeson) or any of the pulp writers we idolize today, were doing.

Now I’m not saying ignore the pulp heroes of yesterday, or not set new pulp stories in the 20s or 30s if you want. But what I am saying is… you’re largely missing the point of what the pulp writers were really doing. They were putting these heroes in a world that really needed them, the present world.

I am saying the pulp fiction of Warren Murphy’s REMO WILLIAMS or Marc Olden’s BLACK SAMURAI or Don Pendleton’s MAC BOLDEN are far truer representations of pulp fiction, pulp heroes, than today’s current writers who are making nostalgic re-workings of 1920s, 1930, and 1940s stories.

Again I have no problem with modern writers setting stories in that time frame, I quite enjoy and have championed many of them, but there seems to be this faulty conclusion in the minds of modern writers and readers that setting them in a specific past time frame, makes it pulp. No. Nothing could be further from the truth. Setting it in that time frame makes it a pastiche.

If Gibson or Page or Allain were writing today their heroes would be set in today, and their horror and villains… expressions of timely concerns. Allain’s FANTOMAS or Gibson’s SHADOW would be hanging the president of Exxon or Shell out of a window, saying “You want to explain those gas prices to me now?”

That’s why I love books like BLACK SAMURAI and THE DESTROYER because they are the pulp aesthetic continued, and have original things to say and original menaces to say it to, rather than simply the tendency to nostalgia, and aping dead writers.

When pulp heroes of yesterday fought nazis and gangsters, that wasn’t simply kitschy entertainment, that took some balls. Because gangsters were very much real things, and Nazis a very real threat, and nobody wanted to touch these topics. The way no one today wants to deal with topics of Guantanamo Bay, or Middle Eastern massacres, or corporate over-lobbying of representatives.

Pulp fiction of the 10s (the wonderful, and horrifying Fantamos),20s and 30s and 40s… was timely and controversial. Pulp fiction (and pulp heroes) was about giving the common man a hero who could stand up against the evils of the day, be those evils foreign or domestic. That is pulp fiction, not this nostalgic, safe, hermetically sealed, removed from any relevance of today, pastiches that people want to sanctify.

True pulp fiction, is a fantastic, white-knuckled, adrenalin inducing and entertaining tirade against the evils of its time. Sometimes in-dispute evil.

People forget there was a portion of America, the loud vocal right wing that were pro-hitler and pro the nazis, right up to and even after Pearl Harbor. So for these books to come out in the 1930s with Nazi Villains took balls. It was controversial. They got their share of grief from the Rush Limbaugh’s of the day.

So when people say “Well, true pulp fiction/pulp heroes needs to be set in the 20s to the 40s”, to that I say “only if you’re living in the 20s to the 40s”. True pulp heroes are an answer… an answer to the truths and the lies of your nightly news.

So while it’s wonderful we have this resurgence of so many writers doing pastiches in the pulp vein, it’s unfortunate so few modern writers are actually doing real pulp novels ala Warren Murphy or the late Marc Olden or even the late Ian Flaming.

So few current writers are doing books with great, even salacious covers, breakneck speed, thrilling action, and larger than life protagonists in conflict with outlandish villains, set in a present/timely context. That is the definition of true pulp fiction, and true pulp heroes… and what we are in dire need… of more of.

-to be continued-

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Part II will bring you the list of 15 favorite pulp heroes. Your jaw will drop!!! 🙂

Copyright 2000-2012 Masai Inc

WEDNESDAYS WORDS!

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.

I’m doing something a bit different for this WEDNESDAYS WORDS, selecting one work to review. This week’s review is on GRAPHISTES WORLD ARTBOOK 01.

So go here for that review.

And yes I am completely exhausted, and this keeps me from missing a Wednesday. 🙂

Can’t put anything pass you guys. Next Wednesday I’ll make it up to you guys and gals with a full WEDNESDAY WORDS.

PULP OF THE DAY! The Best Norvell Page Spider Covers!!

PULP IMAGES OF THE DAY!

This section is dedicated to great pulp covers whether classic or current.

Today we showcase a few covers of that 1930s creation, The Spider!

While I really enjoy Novell Page’s SPIDER writing (Norvell Page being the primary writer of the Spider), the covers tend to be variations on a theme.

There are more than a few Spider covers that are not the most imaginative and art-wise come off a bit as a poor man’s Shadow, which is something of the truth, the Spider being created to ride the popularity of the Shadow.

Fortunately for the series Norvell Page didn’t write an imitation, his Spider was its own animal, and his stories are arguably more excitingly written and entertaining than the Shadow novels. So any generic, uninspired covers could generally be forgiven when the stories were as bat-addled insane and gripping as Norvell Page could make them.

Though to be fair, compared to the covers that pulp writers of today use, even the most boring SPIDER cover is a masterpiece.

Here for your viewing pleasure are a few examples of the best of those SPIDER pulp covers:

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And if you like that, for more on The Spider go here:

The Spider: City of Doom (Spider (Baen Books))

The Spider VS. The Empire State: The Complete Black Police Trilogy

When the Death-Bat Flies: The Detective Stories of Norvell Page

PODCAST OF THE DAY: A Group Interview on A Wizard Of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

“So it came to my imagination, that Fantasy has been so lily-white, so northern European, let’s just turn it on its head. That’s the simplest way to reverse a train, turn it inside out…it’s only quite recently…that I’ve heard from people, some of them are just kids, some of them are remembering back to when they first read the Earth Sea Books. People of color telling me that was the first fantasy they ever felt included in, and what it meant to them. And I tell you, it moved me very much.” — Ursula K. Leguin

Podcast of the Day: National Endowment for the Arts Presents: Big Read: A Group Interview on A Wizard Of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

For more on the National Endowment of the Arts and EarthSea, go here!

“Earthsea is a creation of Ursula K. Le Guin. The original Trilogy was composed of A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), The Tombs of Atuan (1971), and The Farthest Shore (1972). The fourth book, Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea was published in 1990. A number of stories have now been published as Tales from Earthsea (2001) and a fifth novel, The Other Wind, also came out in late 2001. The first published story in the Earthsea world was The Word of Unbinding, which was originally published in Fantastic (1964) and later reprinted in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters (1975). The series has won a number of awards.”–scv.bu.edu

“It consists of three short novels, the longest just over 200 small pages in my old Puffin edition. And, though adults can read it without feeling at all out of place, it is written for children — “For readers of eleven and over” the covers say, though it could be read by, or to, very much younger children. But the Earthsea trilogy is still the first work that comes to mind when I’m asked “The Lord of the Rings, yes, but what then?”

A Taoist conception of “Balance” underlies Earthsea: the use of magic is dangerous, and can destabilise the natural order. And there are many patterns and parallels in the trilogy. A Wizard of Earthsea is about a young man’s coming of age, in which he attends an all-male school for wizards, and much of it is set at sea; The Tombs of Atuan is a young woman’s coming of age in an all-female temple complex, and much of it happens underground. And so forth. None of this is explicit, however, nor is conscious understanding of it at all necessary for appreciation of the novels. They are, first and foremost, spellbinding stories, with memorable characters.

There are now sequels to the Earthsea trilogy. Fifteen years later Le Guin wrote Tehanu, which is often coupled with these three novels to form an Earthsea “Quartet”. Tehanu is different in many ways, however — it is not a children’s book, for one thing — and I consider its inclusion in one volume with the trilogy to be misguided. More recently has come The Other Wind and a book of short stories, Tales From Earthsea.

I would not normally have considered reviewing the Earthsea books: they have received plenty of academic criticism and have been set texts in schools, so they should need no promotion. (Though the cynical might argue quite the opposite.) I keep running into people, however, who rave about Harry Potter and claim to be fantasy fanatics, but who haven’t heard of Earthsea.”— Danny Yee of Danny Reviews

“The Sci-Fi channel aired a 2-part, 4-hour miniseries based on the first two books in December, 2004… Ursula Le Guin… railed against it [Leguin discusses eloquently the whitewashing of her novel here] and I can not in any way recommend it… this is an absolute travesty against a wonderful piece of fantasy literature.” —scv.bu.edu

“I reread the whole thing once a year. Kid’s fantasy doesn’t get better than this. Actually, grownup fantasy doesn’t get better than this. The whole series is a virtuous performance from one of the greatest writers ever to work in the genre. The Tombs of Atuan (vol. 2) is probably my personal favorite; it has a special magic both because of the Borgesian labyrinth setting, and because it’s one of the first and greatest feminist subversions of epic fantasy. But A Wizard of Earthsea (vol 1) is probably the single most perfect fantasy book ever written. It distills the essence of epic fantasy into its purest form and restates it in deceptively simple prose that rises to the level of poetry.”— Chris Moriarty at GOOD READS.com

The Earthsea Quartet (Puffin Books)


So take a listen to the audio (don’t listen to the whole thing until after you read the books, you’ll know when to stop. Around the 17 minute mark), avoid the SciFi/SyFy channel series and all work by its director Robert Lieberman :), and pick up a copy of Ursula’s four book series here.

And generally just enjoy the source, the progenitor for later fictions such as HARRY POTTER and the MAGICIANS.

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